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  • Writer's pictureVicky Zhuang Yi-Yin

The Cheeni in A Sari

Growing up in Pakistani schools, we get told about that fun night called Farewell that we start looking forward to once we enter grade 9. For girls, it is about that one night they'd dress up in a Sari.

A Sari is a garment worn in the subcontinent. It is usually a long piece of cloth draped over the shoulders and wrapped around the waist. Even the Sanskrit word means a strip of cloth. It has many different styles of drapery depending on the region.

Every year, schools organize a Farewell party for their students who will graduate and head to a newer level of education. (I think we should call them Level Up parties.) This farewell party is mostly for celebrating our time in school and is supposedly the most memorable and the most extravagant. And that sari was the most important part of the conversation. For my female class fellows. Boys only wore their pant suits. (Or in my time, pretended to be Barney Stinson.)

Not for me. I joked about wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. The girls tried all they could to get me to wear one, but it never happened. Until...

One day while I was strolling through my Instagram feed. I stopped clicking off all the Insta-Stories that were on and saw my friend, Sanina posting something about wanting an excuse to wear a Sari anytime. I just cheekily responded, "I on the other hand, have never worn a sari."

Sanina replied, "Vicky, no no no we can't let you do this, you have to wear a sari. Omg lets do a sari shoot ill tie you a sari bs done kro."

And that was it. It took us a week to plan which day to do it. And here are some of the shots.

So these were taken by Sanina. The sari belongs to her. We decided to do a little impromptu shoot with me dressed in a sari to commemorate this moment. (Impromptu, because a friend was supposed to do the photography, but was busy playing PUBG.) I can hear my friends who had bugged me to wear a Sari on our farewells breathing a sigh of relief. They always wondered what I would be like if I dressed like them. Since I was such a tom boy back then, they all wanted me to "act like a girl". Which till this day is a debatable condition.

Sanina and I enjoyed a ton doing this, and we were joined by Nida Malik. We also had an amazing conversation on God-knows-so-many-many-things! We had so much fun at the park, and did not care how stupid I was looking, when I was doing my weird, "I don't know how to walk in a Sari" walk. This was when I held all the cloth and crouched and walked in a weird way. I will not release the videos Nida took that day, because yeah I don't want to.

What I'd like to say is that wearing a Sari was a fun experience. It's this long piece of cloth that embraces your body. It's history this piece of cloth has tied to this region is long and rich but it isn't something that I have seen many people wear anymore. Its tradition is now tied only to fancy events, and no longer is the sari an every day wear. I may be wrong, but this is my observation of the things around me. But if this makes a come back as an every day wear, I'll ask Sanina and Nida to go shopping with me to get some black saris later on. Maybe I'll just do it even if it does not make a come back.

Kya kehti ho Sanina, Nida?

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